TN Smart Yards & YOU

A virtual Meet-Up Review

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hosted Celeste Scott for a virtual meet-up on Friday, May 31st from 12 noon to 1pm (Central).

Celeste Scott, Extension Horticulture Specialist in West TN, gave a presentation titled “Stewardship in Home Landscapes: An Introduction to the TN Smart Yards Program”. The TN Smart Yards education program teaches stewardship principles and practical actions for gardeners who wish to promote sustainability and stewardship that starts at home.  Attendees learned about the 9 stewardship principles of TN Smart Yards and discovered new educational resources with an emphasis on vegetable gardening.

Watch Recorded Meet-Up Video Below

Learn more about the TN Smart Yards Program on their website: https://tnyards.utk.edu/

Review Celeste’s Presentation HERE

Celeste is a native West Tennessean raised on a production row crop and beef cattle farm. Her passion for plants began early in life collecting plants from friends and family, working at local garden centers and managing a vegetable truck crop patch. Celeste attended Middle TN State University for her undergraduate degree in Plant & Soil Science, and obtained her Master’s degree from the University of TN Martin in Agriculture & Natural Resources.  Her career in agriculture began with TN Farmers Co-operative followed by service with UT Extension as a County Agent.  Celeste is now the UT Extension Horticulture Specialist in West TN. She is married, has 2 young children, and spends her free time with soil under her nails.

RESOURCES

UT Hort Website https://uthort.tennessee.edu/

UT HORT HELPINE: Do you have a question you want/need to ask the UTHort Team? Use the following form to submit your question(s) to be reviewed and answered by an Extension expert! Then simply join us via our Live Q&A to hear your question answered in real time!

TN Smart Yards https://tnyards.utk.edu/

Watershed https://tiny.utk.edu/watersheds

Soil Plant Pest Center https://soillab.tennessee.edu/

Check out UTHORT on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube

UTHort Youtube Channel – The faculty and staff at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture want to share the findings of their latest research and their best tips with you! Subscribe to the UTHort page where you’ll find videos that will help you create landscapes and gardens that you will love.

JOIN THE #GROW FOOD CHALLENGE! This virtual meet-up coincides with this year’s #GrowFoodChallenge from April 13th – June 29th. The #GrowFoodChallenge is a call to action for individuals, families, schools, youth, & community groups in Northwest Tennessee to grow food & build soil.  Learn how you can be a part of this challenge at https://nwtnlfn.org/grow-food-challenge/  

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

~ Samantha Goyret
Local Food Network Team Blogger

Food Is Medicine Interest Survey

Our journey began back in May 2022, when we hosted a “Food Is Medicine” virtual Meet-Up. We learned from experts in the fields of medicine, nutrition, programming, and research, as well as learned barriers and solutions to reduce healthcare costs through our food sources. The concept of “Food is Medicine,” is using food as both treatment and prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet.

This past year, we received funding from the Nutrition Incentive Hub Capacity Building Fund to explore the beginnings of a Northwest Tennessee Food Prescription Program.

We are partnering with the McKenzie Hometown Health Clinic, the Tennessee Department of Health, the Carroll County Department of Health, Carroll County Extension, Second Harvest Food Bank, E.W. James, and Blackberry Pond Farm to begin a new “Food is Medicine” program to our region, but we need your help!

Take our 3-minute anonymous survey to help us gather information about your food needs.

Tips to Get STARTed

During this #GrowFoodChallenge season, here are a few tips, tricks and great information about how to get your veggie and herbs seeds started.

The #GrowFoodChallenge is a call to action for individuals, families, schools, youth, & community groups in Northwest Tennessee to grow food & build soil.

From Saturday, April 13 – June 29, 2024, registered participants residing in NWTN may earn up to 6 prize entries through the START. GROW. HARVEST categories by submitting online photos of your growing food AND reducing food waste projects.

Learn more about photo submission forms HERE

Register for the #GrowFoodChallenge HERE


How to Read Seed Packets

Learn from Dr. Bethany Wolters, Assistant Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at UTM, about how to read the information on your seed packets (in 9-minutes).

START your Seeds

There’s something almost magical in the process of planting a tiny, humble seed, and watching it transform into a plant with broad, green leaves, magnificent flowers, and delicious fruits.

Growing a garden in the ground or in pots from seed takes a little planning and care, but seeds want to grow. With a little know-how, a few tools, and some prep work, you can help them.

Learn more garden planting & tips at www.seedsavers.org


Beginner Gardening Tips

Are you looking to start your first garden this season? Have you been gardening for a while, but just can’t seem to get it right? We have been there! The journey to a productive garden isn’t always an easy one. Learn from Jessica Quinn, owner of the Mama on the Homestead blog, with her 20 beginner gardening tips to help you get started.

Learn More from Mama on the Homestead

Download Composting Made Easy E-Book

Beginner Gardening Tips

Follow Jessica on Facebook


Plants have friends, too! All about Companion Planting

Here are a few plants we have gotten started for our #NourishingConnection Early Childcare Center partners in Weakley County, TN #FarmtoECE #GrowFoodChallenge

For a healthy, thriving garden, companion planting can help guide when you’re deciding what seeds to put where.

In Depth Companion Planting Guide


How To Water Your Garden

Learn from Farmer Dave a few tips and tricks about how to water your garden from seed to harvest.

Watch 1-minute Video Here


Now that you can start growing your own food, let’s get started on making compost!
START Turning Waste into TN Gold

Challenge accepted? You’ve got this! Grow food and reduce food waste with the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network during this year’s #GROW FOOD CHALLENGE!!!

~Samantha Goyret
Local Food Network Team Blogger

START Turning Waste into TN Gold

During this #GrowFoodChallenge season, here are a few ways to reduce food & household waste while building delicious, nutritious, soil – also known as Tennessee Gold!

The #GrowFoodChallenge is a call to action for individuals, families, schools, youth, & community groups in Northwest Tennessee to grow food & build soil.

From Saturday, April 13 – June 29, 2024, registered participants residing in NWTN may earn up to 6 prize entries through the START. GROW. HARVEST categories by submitting online photos of your growing food AND reducing food waste projects.

Learn more about photo submission forms HERE

Register for the #GrowFoodChallenge HERE


Creative Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Freeze food that is about to go bad. Go through your fridge every few days and take an assessment of what’s about to spoil. Then decide whether you should cook with it, freeze it, or compost it.

How to Freeze Fruits and Veggies

Cook with your food scraps. Don’t toss those potato peels! Save those onion ends!

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Grow food from kitchen scraps! Green onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic, and countless other scraps can be grown in your garden or in a jar in your kitchen for free produce all year long!

15 foods you can regrow from scraps

  • Organize your refrigerator and dry food storage to use older items first. Learn more about food product dating.
  • Eat leftovers for lunch or another meal within 3-4 days.

Join #ComePostYourCompost

The Tennessee Environmental Council’s #ComePostYourCompost Program helps you know how to turn your food waste into healthier soils. Join the community of composters and help divert tons of food waste from Tennessee landfills!

Sign-up within your TN County HERE

Join the Facebook Group

What is Compost?

Composting is a natural process by which any organic material, such as food waste or lawn trimmings, is broken down by naturally occurring bacteria and fungus in the soil to form compost. The resulting materials—compost—is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that looks a lot like soil itself.

Compost Guide

How do I compost?

Compost will transform the food scraps (and other materials like paper and cardboard) into healthy, nutrient-rich soil! This is the basis for all life on Earth. By composting you are participating in the healing of our planet. 

Download the TN Environmental Council’s What to Compost

Download the TN Environmental Council’s Simple Steps to Composting

Trash Talk Video – #ComePostYourCompost – by the Tennessee Environmental Council

Learn tips on how and where to compost from the Tennessee Environmental Council.

Turning Yard Waste into TN Gold

As you clean-up your yards from leaves and clear out your garden beds of weeds, consider re-using these natural elements to the benefit of your wallet, your soil, and our climate. 

Recycling food and other organic waste into compost provides a range of environmental benefits, including improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling nutrients, and mitigating the impact of droughts. Composting can be done in many ways. It’s all about utilizing the power of natural decomposition processes, and turning yard scraps into Tennessee gold. My family composts by piling mounds all over our yard because we have lots of weeds – all over, and it’s a lot of yard waste to deal with. Instead of giving it away to a waste company, we give it back to the soil. 

6 Ways to Turn Yard Waste into Tennessee Gold

  1. Repurpose your Fall Leaves:  Add fallen leaves to your compost pile. The carbon in leaves is essential to a healthy compost pile by adding nutrients and keeping moisture. You can pile them up next to your compost and add them into your pile, gradually, all year. Don’t have a compost pile? Check out the Tennessee Environmental Council’s #Come Post Your Compost web and facebook group pages. 
  2. Use leaves in your potted plants: Mix dried leaves in the top two to three inches of soil. Overtime the leaves will decompose and increase nutrients, giving your potted plants a healthy start!
  3. Save your lawn by just mowing over your leaves: Instead of raking up your leaves, just go over your whole yard with your lawn mower, this will chop up the leaves, spread them out, and allow them to decompose throughout the winter. Shredded leaves are also a cost effective alternative to store bought mulch and will help protect grass, flower buds and seeds in your yard.
  4. Create Art Projects with your fallen leaves: Pick the most beautiful fall leaves to preserve and use for seasonal decorations. Leaves are a versatile art material. You can use them to stuff scarecrows, make a pretty wreath, and even for leaf rubbing art. If you would like to make leaf rubbing art, place fresh and/or dried leaves under a sheet of paper and shade over each leaf with a colored pencil or crayon – it’s magical!
  5. Gather the leaves and help the critters: Many wildlife species live or rely on the leaves to find food or make habitats. If you want to keep your yard clean, but help with wildlife then rake up the leaves and pill them up in a far corner of your yard. If you have a woodsy area on your property you can place them there!
  6. Save your cardboard & reduce waste in your neighborhood: Use cardboard in- between your garden bed rows and top them off with your neighbor’s leaf bags. It’s cheaper than buying bags of mulch and they decompose to create rich, luscious soil.

Use cardboard in-between your garden bed rows and top them off with your neighbor’s leaf bags. It’s cheaper than buying bags of mulch and they decompose to create rich, luscious soil. Make sure to remove any plastic tape the cardboard might have and the leaves are clean (with no garbage).

The combination of cardboard and leaves help the weeds stay blacked-out and not grow throughout season. Utilizing leaves around your yard builds your soil, protects from drought, and prevents pesky weeds from invading your pathways – saving you both time and money and protecting our earth’s natural resources: soil and water.

Read more: 7 Tips to Healthy Soil

Samantha Goyret
Local Food Network Team Blogger

Hunger Relief Virtual Meet-Up

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network invited hunger relief organizations and community groups to join us virtually on Tuesday, March 19th at 12 noon (central) for a FREE virtual meet-up via zoom. Participants networked and learn from local experts about Hunger relief resources to support local food relief efforts in Northwest Tennessee.

Watch Video HERE or below.

Hunger Relief Resources Shared:

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN Project Grow:

  • Project Grow” uses numerous gardens, ADA-accessible raised farming beds and row crop fields to serve as a long-term food source.
  • Watch video
  • To learn more about volunteering with Project Grow and with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, visit secondharvestmidtn.org, contact Donna Vick at donna.vick@secondharvestmidtn.org or call 731-213-5203.

Unite Us Platform:

  • Unite Us supports community-based organizations in choosing the technology that best meets their needs and the needs of those they serve, without any restrictions.
  • Over a decade ago, Unite Us pioneered the first closed-loop referral platform. Our mission is to facilitate accountable connections to care for anyone in need, empowering government, healthcare, and local community-based organizations to thrive and focus on what they do best. Through cutting-edge technology, we seamlessly bring communities together, predicting, delivering, and facilitating payment for community-based social care. Our platform encompasses more than one million services, boasting the industry’s largest outcome-focused community network.
  • Find your network here
  • For more information contact Kylee Dick, Customer Success Manager: kylee.dick@uniteus.com, (423) 963-3294

Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network:

  • The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN with a mission to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL. Learn about this year’s #GrowFoodChallenge and how your food pantry can benefit from access to resources and locally grown foods for your clientele.
  • Current Hunger Relief Food Guide
  • 2024-2025 Local Food Guide Magazine – hunger relief listings (please contact Sam to request current listings for your review)
  • Grow Food Challenge
  • Contact us! Samantha Goyret – nwtnfoodguide@gmail.com or call (731) 332-9071 or email Caroline Ideus – caroline.ideus@gmail.com

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based out of Martin, TN, with a mission to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

Support for School Garden Helps #GrowSharon, Educate, and Engage Students

Thanks to the generous support from the Northwest Tennessee [NWTN] Local Food Network, grant funds, and the Weakley County Soil Conservation District, students at Sharon School have even more opportunities to learn and participate in the cycle of food – from the ground straight to the lunch table.

Through the collaboration, Sharon School has welcomed new galvanized steel raised beds into its school garden. The tasty and nutritious vegetables grown in the garden will be harvested and served up for lunch to hungry students. The new garden beds will provide fertile ground for hands-on learning experiences in agriculture, sustainability, and nutrition. 

In addition to local support from the Soil Conservation District, a $500 GroMoreGood Grassroots grant kicked off the initiative through the NWTN Local Food Network. This grant, facilitated by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening.org, provided the crucial funding to jumpstart this phase of the school garden project.

Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the NWTN Local Food Network, has been instrumental in shaping the Farm to School initiative in Weakley County.  She expressed her gratitude for generous local partners.

“We are thankful to the Weakley County Soil Conservation District for this support. Working to conserve and protect soil and water resources in Weakley County through education and outreach. The partnership was the missing piece to making this project happen for Sharon School.”

-Samantha Goyret

Goyret’s passion for educating children about growing food and healthy eating habits has been instrumental as the driving force behind the program’s success. She believes in the importance of teaching students about where food comes from and healthy eating habits.

“Our goal is to not only educate children about where their food comes from but also to instill a deeper understanding of the benefits of healthy eating for themselves, their families, and our communities. By integrating the produce they grow into the school cafeteria, we create a full feedback loop that reinforces this understanding.”

Sharon School students working on cleaning up the garden.

Under the guidance of Dresden High School teacher and FFA chapter advisor Jonathan Holden, Dresden FFA students built, loaded, delivered, unloaded, and placed the raised beds at Sharon School in February. Students, faculty, and staff at Sharon School have also been cleaning and preparing the area for spring planting.

Recognizing the pivotal role of school leadership, Samantha commended Sharon School’s Principal Michelle Clements, Assistant Principal Beth Davidson, and teachers Danielle Johnson and Lydia Hazlewood for their guidance and dedication to the project.

“Having strong leadership at the school level is crucial for the success of any school garden project. These individuals lead the charge each year by integrating outdoor learning experiences into the curriculum, ensuring that students are engaged and learning from the entire experience.  Weakley County Schools is the beacon that is leading the Farm to Schools movement in West Tennessee.”

The theme for this school year at Sharon School is #GrowSharon, according to Principal Michelle Clements, and this collaboration reflects the theme perfectly.

“We love providing our students with the chance to grow with hands-on learning experiences that they can use for the rest of their lives. We are thankful to have these partnerships that allow students to get their hands in the soil, learn about agriculture, and to get a better understanding of all that it encompasses to grow nutritious and sustainable foods.”

-Michelle Clements

The NWTN Local Food Network, founded as a grassroots organization in 2015 and later established as a nonprofit in 2018, has been instrumental in fostering partnerships between schools and communities to promote sustainable agriculture and nutrition education. With a focus on empowering students to make healthy choices and fostering community resilience, the NWTN Local Food Network is at the forefront of the Farm to School movement in West Tennessee.

For more, visit weakleycountyschools.com

Harvest of the Month Poster Winners Announced

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) hosted the Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month (HOTM) poster contest during Farm to School month in October 2023.  All K-12 students in the Northwest Tennessee Region were eligible to enter the contest. The Harvest of the Month program’s goal is to encourage healthy and local food choices by increasing Northwest Tennessee residents’ exposure to seasonally available foods. 

“This project provides awareness of the locally grown foods, artistic expression, and the important connection with our local food system,” commented Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network. “The entries showed how students, when given a chance, have an incredible ability to showcase their creative skills and agricultural knowledge.”

The 12 student winners were chosen from 58 entries from South Carroll County Special School District and Weakley County School District. The winners are (drumroll please….):

January – Beef: Candice Bowlin, Grade 9, Clarksburg School

February – Pork, Jayden Garcia, Grade 8, Clarksburg School

March – Hydroponic Lettuce, Basil Parsaca, Grade 9, Dresden High School

April – Radish, Bayleigh Laws, Grade 4, Clarksburg School

May  – Strawberries, Vivian Flippin, Grade 3, Clarksburg School

June – Broccoli, Mattie Burnett, Grade 12, Dresden High School

July – Corn, Klover Santiago, Grade 5, Clarksburg School

August – Melons, Becky Melton, Grade 5, Clarksburg School

September – Apples, Lily Lucas, Kindergarten, Clarksburg School

October – Gourds, Tegan Stout, Grade 3, Dresden Elementary School

November – Sweet Potatoes, Annaka Townsend, Grade 6, Clarksburg School

December – Turnips, Alexa Vu, Grade 6, Martin Middle School

“We celebrate the Clarksburg Rockets Farm to School program in partnership with the NWTNLFN that is guiding us as we develop a robust Farm to School culture in all grade-levels in our school,” stated Dr. Lisa Norris, Director of Schools, South Carroll Special School District. “The Harvest of the Month program is a great example of how to tie in art, agriculture, nutrition and local food education all in one project. ”

The winning artwork will be featured in Harvest of the Month Promotional materials in the Northwest Tennessee region. The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL in Northwest Tennessee.

Clarksburg School Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month Poster Winners 2024
(From left to right): Caroline Ideus – NWTNLFN, Annaka Townsend, Klover Santiago, Candice Bowlin, Bayleigh Laws, Vivian Flippin,  Lily Lucas, Clarksburg Art Teacher LeAnne Edwards, Samantha Goyret, NWTNLFN
(Winners not present: Becky Melton & Jayden Garcia)

Weakley County Schools Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month Poster Winners 2024  (From top to bottom): Tegan Stout – Grade 3, Dresden Elementary School, Alexa Vu – Grade 6, Martin Middle School, Mattie Burnett – Grade 12, Dresden High School
(Winner not present: Hydroponic Greens, Basil Parsaca – Grade 9, Dresden High School)

New Regional Food Business Center partners with Local Food Network

In May 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the creation of 12 new USDA Regional Food Business Centers that will provide national coverage coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources, thereby closing the gaps to success. 

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to transforming our food system to one that offers new market opportunities to small and mid-sized farming operations through a strengthened local and regional food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Regional Food Business Centers, along with investments through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program will create new and expanded local market opportunities which will improve farm income, create good paying jobs and build greater resilience in our overall food system.”

The Regional Food Business Centers will support producers by providing localized assistance to access a variety of markets, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors. By strengthening connections between rural and urban areas, the Regional Food Business Centers will drive economic opportunities across the region, creating a more diversified and resilient food system. Collectively, the organizations selected to lead each Center reflect an impressive cross-section of the varied institutions, organizations, and associations that must cooperate to achieve genuinely strong and distributed food systems. These organizations are engaging with grassroots food and farm organizations and employing a range of creative strategies to build food system resiliency. Regional Food Centers will target their work to historically underinvested communities in their region.

Lead Organization Selected for Each Center: Appalachia USDA Regional Food Business Center, Rural Action Inc.

In partnership with lead organization, Rural Action, based out of Ohio, the Northwest Tennessee  Local Food Network is facilitating the coordination, technical assistance and capacity building with local farmers through business builder subawards of up to $100,000 to support projects focused on regional needs and businesses that are working towards expansion and other investment.

“We are proud to be one of the partners making up the Appalachia Regional Food Business Center!” stated Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the NWTN Local Food Network. “We are excited to explore this new online hub and share upcoming resources to support local food innovators in our region.”

Sign up for email updates on their “Contact Us” page, or through their newsletter link. Stay connected with the Center for the latest updates on regional food initiatives and events at Appalachia Regional Food Business Center (appalachiarfbc.org).

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, based out of Martin, TN, to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

Additional Resources

Regardless of the current size of your business, it is best to plan and structure so that you’re ready for the future. When it comes to growing a #smallbusiness, a little proactivity will pay off in the long run. There are several ways to grow your business, and having an actionable plan is key. This is where the TSBDC can help. From branding to diversification, we are here to here to help you start and implement a growth strategy that is right for your business! Contact your consultant HERE

Local Foods for Local Schools – online procurement discussion

On December 4, 2023 the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hosted a FREE virtual Meet-Up for Farmers and NWTN School Nutrition Directors to:

1. Discuss procurement trends and issues

2. Cultivate relationships with NWTN School Nutrition Directors

3. Create pathways for collaboration to innovative local food procurement

4. Share Market and Funding Opportunities with Farmers & Schools

Share, network and learn from a panelist of experts including Dan Spatz from Healthy Flavors Arkansas/Tennessee, Brenda Williams from Communities Unlimited, Jiwon Jun from EAT Real.org, Mike Brown from the TN Dept. of Agriculture, hear news from the new Appalachian Regional Food Business Center, and Caroline Ideus & Samantha Goyret from the Northwest TN Local Food Network. We will be planning for the 2024 school year by connecting NWTN School Nutrition Directors to Farmers. We hope for a fruitful discussion as we plan for 2024!

Watch the recorded video below:

Watch the recorded meeting he
re

Additional Resources Shared:

Local Food Procurement Resources:

Opportunities for engagement

  • Spring 2024 Local Foods for Local Schools funding must be spent by August 2024.
  • NIFA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Project: SAE Internships with Farmers 2024/2025 – To be determined upon funding to the NWTN Local Food Network in May 2024

TN Farm to School Institutes

GAP Certification Overview

~ NOTES FROM THE MEETING ~

Procurement Trends and Issues –  Dan Spatz, Healthy Flavors AK/TN

  1. Dan is transitioning his family farm from commodity crops to specialty vegetable crops and sourcing his locally grown foods into schools.
  2. Many are aware that the types of foods children & anybody in your community consumes are important to one’s overall health.
  3. Create opportunities to sit-down with people, face-to-face, and cultivate relationships with institutions – it’s a win-win on both sides. 
  4. We need more farmers willing to take managed risk. It might not be intuitive as the easiest way of selling food, but the childhood nutrition program in our schools is the largest restaurant in Tennessee.
  5. What we have coming off the farm is not packaged the way the school nutrition facilities are used to receiving it.  
  6. How do we get the food off the farm and have it ready for use in Childhood nutrition programs?
  7. You have to have a mind-set of customer service.
  8. The pricing directly from farms is not inline with school nutrition budget / allocations.  Commodities are much more affordable than direct farmer sales; however recent funding has allowed for more local food purchases
  9. Farmers – Don’t think, as a farmer, that you’re doing this on your own.  There are many resources available for farmers through grants and other incentives.   

NWTN School Nutrition Directors (and contact info!) who have receive Farm to School, Local Foods for Schools or Healthy Incentives Funding – 

Meeting Notes

What is the funding that you have now?  – NWTN School Nutrition Directors

  1. Trista Snider (Weakley Co.) – received funds through a grant (Local Foods for Schools (LFS) & Healthy Meals Incentive Grant, looking to source anything that is available.  The grants have allowed us to hire a school nutrition consultant / chef to train staff to improve techniques and recipes for scratch cooking.
    1. Particularly looking for meat products.  
    2. Barriers – costs and deliveries from the farmers.  
    3.  Weakley County School Nutrition Facebook page
  1. Lisa Seiber-Garland (Trenton SSD)- Received money through grant (Local Foods for Schools -LFS & Healthy Meals Incentive Grant) buys as much as possible and is able to buy local products at market rate.  The grants have helped us buy equipment & to hire extra staff to help prepare local foods, fresher foods, more scratch cooking.
    1. Sourcing from Stockyard Market (Stockyard Burger every friday), starting to get pork from them,  purchases produce from area farmers, Blackberry Pond Farm
    2. Vision – ALL of our students want to eat in the cafeteria, it’s their cafe. The food is always good. Every child has at least two good meals every day and they are enjoyable and students tell people about their school food. When we have a happy child, with their tummies full, they can study and learn better.

The good thing about being a school nutrition director is that we all work together, share resources and gather ideas. It is a tough profession to be in, but we have a lot of support from one another.

~Lisa Seiber-Garland, Trenton Special School District

Create pathways for collaboration to innovative local food procurement – Mike Brown – TN Dept of Ag 

What’s Needed in the future in 2024 to get more food in schools?  

Sue Miller – Blackberry Pond Farm, Martin, TN, Weakley County , West TN

  • Currently they have excess Scarlett Queen and Thai turnips & Beets right now. Additionally they have micro-greens available for taste tests. Microgreens have a high nutrient content.

Tyler Smith  – Future Visions Farms, Whitlock, TN, Henry County, West TN

  • Strawberries (Mid/late April- June) – can deliver to schools 
  • If you can’t be competitive with wholesale dealers, don’t try 
  • Growing for volume – cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, butternut, spaghetti, acorn, kombucha, new potatoes. Sweet onions (red and yellow)
  • Henry County has not received any grants to purchase local foods.
  • GAP Certification – the farm is GAP Certified which has been necessary for the large distributors/ market  – it’s a lot of redundant, tedious paperwork. It takes time.

Ryan Gunn – Blueberry Farms, Cottage Grove, Williamson County, Middle TN 

  • Small-Scale Beef Producer
  • Competitive Pricing
  • How small of a producer is too small for schools?
    • There is no size limit. We have sourced one beef cattle into schools and that was fine. Most importantly it needs to  be USDA certified processed, the measurements are equal – i.e. exactly 5lb packages.
  • Delivery is also a factor but could be included in the cost of the product
  • They deliver from farm to freezer
  • Dignity and Food should always be hand-in-hand. It’s good to know that people care about food and have dignity for their school food.

Keep up to date with our Harvest of the Month program here: https://nwtnlfn.org/taste-of-tennessee/

Register in this year’s NWTN Local Food Guide (it’s free!) – only for farms and producers living in Northwest Tennessee.

Thank you for your interest in the local foods for local schools online discussion. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Caroline Ideus or Samantha Goyret with questions or concerns.

Local Food Hero Awards Announced

Congratulations to the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Local Food Hero awardees – Bell Family Farms, out of Gleason, TN and Blackberry Pond Farm, out of Martin, TN! They were announced during the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Farm to Table Dinner mid October 2023.

“The Local Food Hero awards bring attention to individuals and family farms who deserve to be recognized, and whose work is integral to the sustainance of our local food system,” stated Samantha Goyret, Director of the NWTN Local Food Network.

The Local Food Hero awards Farmers who demonstrate leadership in our communities by:

  • Adhering to responsible environmental and/or social practices
  • Producing high-quality products and/or services
  • Positively impacting the local economy
  • Committing to building and maintaining a robust local food system

“We are honored to be awarded as a local food hero along with our friends Bell Family Farms tonight,” stated Sue Miller, co-owner of Blackberry Pond Farm. “Thank you NWTN Local Food Network for hosting this event and creating a more equitable food economy locally!”

Ashley and Darrell Bell from Bell Family Farms was awarded this year’s Local Food Hero Award! Their farm, located in Gleason, TN, is feeding school children all over our region with their locally grown foods.

Blackberry Pond Farm, Martin, TN, supplies the community & schools with hydroponic greens and vegetables.

Bell Family Farms, Gleason, TN, has supplies the community and schools with their locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Together we are cultivating a thriving and equitable local food system for all in our region! Join us by shopping local, supporting farmers, joining our network, and learning more about our local farmers at nwtnlfn.org/food-resources.